Red Rocket: 1987 Chevrolet Sprint Turbo

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This red devil is a 1987 Chevrolet Sprint Turbo and it’s in Valley Village, California. It’s listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $4,800 or you can make an offer.

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Way back in March, I wrote about a white 1987 Chevy Sprint Turbo and this is the other color they came in: red. The Chevrolet Sprint is a rebadged Suzuki Cultus (one of the oddest names ever!), or the Suzuki Swift, and the turbo model added some much-needed punch. It was actually more like a Cordell Walker spin-kick to the jaw compared to the anemic power of the non-turbo Sprint.

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This car is the amalgamation of three Sprint Turbos that have been put together into the one you see here. Or, at least that’s what I gathered from reading the text and the links provided in the eBay ad. The seller is a Geo fan(atic) who owns 3 of them and 27 cars in total. My hero! The car is pretty nice, but it does have a bit of rust bubbling up which is weird for a California car. Not to mention having its share of nicks and scratches, and a missing trim piece on the bottom of the hatchback and you can see that the gas door is a darker red, I’m guessing that it came from one of the two red parts cars that the seller acquired. I would want this car to be a jewel box and that would take a few thousand dollars added on top of the selling price, so I’d have to make an offer that would make even Rick Harrison cringe, if that’s even possible.

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The interior looks great although there is some fading as there should be for a car that’s almost 30 years old and has been exposed to the sun for that long. Luckily, it’s a 5-speed car, although an automatic was an option. The seller says that for some odd reason it didn’t go into reverse at some point, and then it went in and it’s been fine ever since. According to the links provided, this transmission was from one of the parts cars and supposedly it’s a good one. The AC needs to be charged which, of course, means that it’ll always need to be charged so you may as well just get it fixed right if you want AC. There’s also a tab missing on the sunroof so that’ll leak a few drops, or more, in a rain storm, or when you’re washing it. So, if you live in Tucson, you’re set! Well, other than not having AC…

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Here’s the pocket where the l’il rocket sits. This is a 1.0L three-cylinder (my favorite) Suzuki G10T (T for turbo) engine with 70 hp! Yes, 170 hp would be nice, but if you think the torque-steer is bad with 70 hp, just think of what it would be like with 170 hp going through those front wheels! I would absolutely love to have a Chevy Sprint Turbo, but I’d have to think long and hard on this one. There are a lot of little things that need attention and that price would have to be half of what they’re asking to even consider this one, at least for me. These are fun little cars, though! Have any of you driven one of these lightweight Sprint Turbos?

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Comments

  1. Oingo

    They made excellent pizza delivery vehicles back in the day as they could be had very inexpensively used.

    • Don

      id rather have a pizza

  2. Mark S Member

    Like riding in a coffee can, safer being on a motorcycle which at least could power out of tight situations. If someone hit you with any of the new pickup trucks they could load you in the back and take you to the Mourg cause you’d be soooo dead in this thing. At least with a smart car your surrounded by air bags and a crash cage. This is a POS with a throw away drive line.

    • Kenny

      You clearly had no experience with these cars. Mine was near Bullet Proof.
      I met many folks who had one for over 15 years turning 300k.

      Sure, in an accident it had very little protection.

      But it also was very easy to out maneuver other idiots. I avoided accidents due to its fast moves, communicative steering, strong brakes, and size.

      Like 3
  3. Coventrycat

    I don’t even remember these. Love that “intercooler” decal with the arrow on the front, though.

  4. Pete

    My very 1st *brand new* car was a standard 1985 Chevy Sprint, which I bought in Fresno Ca. The only option on it was the $950.00 air-conditioner which brought the base price of $3,995 up to the princely sum of $4,995! I loved that car. You say that they were under-powered and with that, I must disagree. Mine was really zippy. Heck I even won a first place trophy for the “Under 2 liter” SCCA novice class event that I participated in. Cool little cars. Oh and BTW (for the other commentor), it met its demise in a head on collision. I was wearing my seat belt and survived without a scratch.

    Like 3
  5. Van

    Great car if you like trailing throttle oversteer. Fun in traffic.

  6. kenny

    I had mine 93-2010.

    It took me 2 years to get $4500.. seems it was a bit nicer, with a lot more newer parts. My turbo only had 45k. New alternator, shocks/struts, muffler and cat, recent tires. CA car, not a hint of rust.

    My driver’s seat was pretty wrecked. I am surprised his held up so well at the bolster where the seatbelt rubs.. that almost always opens us and exposes the foam.

    Some parts were getting iffy to find. I needed a gasket for the turbo. Took 3 months to locate on some dealer shelf in Jersey.

    But I digress, I LOVED my Sprint Turbo. That thing could really scoot. My 92 VW GTI 16v is much better in the handling and road holding department, but likely not as fast.

    I can recall in the nearly 18 years of owning my little turbo 3 cylinder. Pulling
    a Scirocco 16v, V6 Accord, and my friend’s 99 VR6 GTI pulled me in some little stop light races.
    My fave was the guy in the BMW 325is I was neck and neck with. He had to role a window down and ask; “What the Hell is IN that Thing?!”

    197k never did much to motor beyond a water pump repair, turbo replacement at 129k (made sure to replace the oil inlet pipe), alternator rebuild, and timing belt replacement.

    Could park it anywhere. Friends picked up the car’s back end to scoot it over in some real tight spots.

    I just live in a city now that does not require a car. Like I did with the Sprint, I have to remember to start my other hot hatch every other week to 20 min. 2 cars was silly stuff.

    Like 1
  7. Rustytech Member

    My mommy told me “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. So here’s my nice, they were easy to work on.

    Like 2
  8. Clinton

    I don’t really understand the rust being odd for California. If it was in a coastal area it could be a California car that’s completely rusted from salt spray.

  9. TC

    (yawn)

  10. Clay Byant

    I bought one of these when I had my used car dealership and was handed one of my life’s real surprises. I drove it back from the auction in 1992 and when I got back I told my mechanic, “That is the fastest 4 cyl. I’ve ever driven”. He turned to me and said “What do you mean? That’s a 3 cylinder…” I had bought it straight off the line as it was a spot decision and I needed the ride home(and it was a good deal)
    That thing went like stink. I’ve driven regular ones and they are like a slug compared to these. I was a normal driver of Corvettes for over 35 years so I can half way sort out street performance.
    If you want a real surprise, take out the rear seat cushion and look in the springs. If this is where they put all the build sheets, take a look. I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it in person myself but the, to the best of my memory, option price on the turbo engine was either 7 or 9 grand in addition to the car. Would be interested if this one had the build sheet.
    I believe Kenny when he said he “mopped up” with his on the street. I’ve had L-88 Corvettes, Bocars,Stage 1 Buick Grand Sports but this is one I would truly like to have back if I was younger. I’m well into my 70s now but the memories linger…..

    Like 2
    • Don

      Thank you for the advice, Clay! Much appreciated!

      Like 2
  11. Don

    Hi,

    I’m the one with the ad on ebay. The rust could be because it was bought in Ventura, CA, and spent time there, as well as in Santa Maria, which is further North of there, Ventura being on the coast, and Santa Maria being near the coast.

    If anybody wants to discuss buying it, by all means, just call the number in the ad or send an email.

    Thank you,

    Don

  12. Dallas

    Some additional history on the car and owner here in an article from Hemmings: https://www.hemmings.com/magazine/hsx/2013/06/Maximum-Entertainment—1987-Chevrolet-Sprint-Turbo/3726421.html

  13. Don

    Indeed, all known history is in the ebay ad and the car is listed on other websites, too. This link above is of the former owner, though, who presented it at the car show.

  14. gearjam1

    Looking at the interior, it appears it was lifted straight out of my Geo Tracker! :) That’s a plus, since tracker interior parts are still relatively available.

  15. David Fisher

    Dave, My Turbo Sprint was sought after and found with a blown 5-speed , but main focus became a Bonneville Salt Flats car for the 1000 cc Turbo classes…It has a full roll cage and I still believe holds the I-Production Supercharged/Turbo-charged at 117.028 mph set in 2001…it held several other I- class records in the 125 mph range which were then broken by another Turbo Sprint team that raised the Fuel Blown Competion Coupe on Nitrous to the 144mph range,as well as other class records…..they have a strong bottom end…and continue to be raced in Land-Speed venues by friends.. I still own the car..

    Like 2
    • Tristan Howell

      I actually own one that was raced at El Mirage and set a similar record. The car was owned and raced by Ron Cochran, who owns Smith Auto, a Central Valley based auto parts store chain. My car is also fully caged, has an aftermarket steering wheel and single seat. It needs some work, but man does it go like the Dickens.

  16. Jim Reinhardt

    Had one of these bought it new in 87 exact same car red 5sp it always amazed me with only 12 inch wheel’s it went through snow that was deeper than the tires were tall great little car

  17. Camaro guy

    Had one of these my second brand new car actually bought it for my wife had 12″ wheels i remember going to work one winter morning in a snow storm the snow was higher than the tires and it plowed right through it surprised the hell out of me

  18. frank forrest giles

    I purchased mine from a UW medical school MD graduate in 1990 it had 35000 miles on it cost me $3500 , I put a HK bypass on the Trubo and set it for 9.9PSI stock was 6PSI and a HK gauge was mounted on the drivers windshield pillar. The car beat everything, including the famous glass blower in Seattle a guy with a first name of Neil and a last name that starts with C. He had curl hair and a Eye patch . He passed my Sprint Turbo just before I entered the park and then went too slow for me he was in a this 10 cylinder two seat MB sports car going into a Montana National Park at the entrance at the same time as me , This was on a week day not long after after winter but not yet the prime season so we were all alone , I was going to the road to the sun in Montana just before sunset to see how neat it was , I have done that a few times before,Well this jerk Neal C he kept clipping the corners with pea gravel from the winter and spraying my car with gravel and yet not going fast just sight seeing slower than I wanted to go. . So I decided to pass him, he made it a race, and he lost. He went to the Bellevue Washington car dealer and purchased a M1 BMW and complained I had beat him. I saw the car I beat in a used car lot in Bellevue and took it for a test ride, it sure felt fast but not like my Sprint Turbo fast. and the salesman said it had Provence as it was owned by a famous person. I pointed at my sprint and said that car has provenience plus as I beat that car in Montana last week. The salesman exclaimed so your the guy, thank you got me a sale . Then he said, ” can you go beat his faster BMW I said right away, all I have to do is from inside my car turn the boost up . The salesman , he said not right away give the guy a few months to enjoy his M1 BMW if that is the special designation for rich peoples cars I could not afford nor would I want one of those best built cars , they are too heavy.I like Chevy and Ford .240 Z and I owned a miata monster and my one big car was a 1965 GTO way too big for me . The car salesman said to wait a few months and then he told me who the guy was a spanked real good. When he stopped trying to pass me after I passed him, he had angered me because he wrecked my chance at the view. He turned off into a restaurant, so I flipped a u turn and went in, in my Levi jacket and blue button down jeans and went up to him and said ” How does it feel to be beat by a red neck in a ricer ?. He was nice and we chatted for a minute. Probably a good thing because he tried to be a road hog and he basically cut in front of me at the entrance to the park kind of a sleaze ball maneuver .. All I noticed was a ugly guy with an eye patch, he make million dollar glass blown stuff and has a museam in Tacoma . I have gone to a car show in a Tavern between his museum and the tavern and the tavern has his blow glass too. I would use the bathroom when looking at classic cars. I loved that turbo sprint it was like riding a 1000 liter super bike only no rain on you in Seattle and just as maneuverable, I bet a super coup T bird coming back from Reno on a windy road easy his big car was both too slow and too heavy to run our that river road as fast as a very light turbo sprint with upgraded toyo 205 V rated tires mounted on upgraded 13 inch mags stock is 12 inch wheels , I wish I had not sold my Sprint and am looking for another .I had about 350K miles on mine when I sold it .It was a great car and I have many motorcycles and that Turbo cold snake though rush hour seattle traffic like my cafe racer that is all hopped up too.

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